ISLAMABAD: The winter climbing season is in full swing, with most of the climbers who failed last year once again attempting to summit the ‘Killer Mountain’.
Their sights are set on the ninth highest mountain in the world – climbers have arrived fully prepared to tackle Nanga Parbat, and are following the same strategy they did last year: being light, fast and fully acclimatised by the start of winter.
According to Alpine Club Pakistan (ACP) Executive Council member Karrar Haidri, however, the method of acclimatisation, route fixing and setting up advance camps – all during winter – has not worked for mountain expeditions so far.
“This year, climbers have planned to launch an assault for the summit the very first weather window after December 22,” Mr Haidri, who is also the ACP spokesperson, said.
He said that attempts to climb the 8,126 metre high mountain at the end of the Himalayan range have become an annual affair for some climbers.
ACP believes that the return of internationally renowned climbers to Nanga Parbat is a good sign, particularly after a terror attack at its base camp in June 2013 which left nearly a dozen foreign climbers dead.
Nanga Parbat traditionally offers a favourable weather window during the start of the winter season, followed by weeks of snow and wind storms.
Many current climbers seem to have planned to reach the top of the mountain during this early summit window. Some teams are already busy with pre-expedition acclimatisation.
The teams hope to finally complete the ascent of one of only two 8,000 metre plus peaks that have not successfully been climbed in the winter.
With every passing year, the scale of the project has increased, making it a major project and even an obsession.
Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz is back once again, as is Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon. Italian climbers Daniele Nardi and Simone Moro will also be taking on the peak. Marek Klonowski is already in Pakistan, with his Justice for All expedition, and climber Adam Bielecki – who is credited with the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum-I and Broad Peak – will also be attempting Nanga Parbat.
APC has said that there will be no teams on K2 this winter.
The Polish Winter Himalaism team was planning to attempt K2 from the Pakistan side this year, but has since postponed the plan.
Last winter, Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki, Alex Txikon, Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew had intended to climb K2 from the Chinese side, but their permit was revoked just a day before the team’s departure.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2015